In Acts 7 Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, has been falsely accused. The High Priest asks, “Are these accusations true?” If Stephen would have simply answered the question he might have been released. “No, they are not true. I have been misunderstood.” End of story.
But Stephen saw a higher purpose, a grand opportunity to present the gospel to this group. So he launched into a lengthy history lesson. His problem: he refused to just answer the question his religious culture was asking. “Yes” or “No”, “True” or “False” – which is it?
He saw “the heavens opened” – a physical manifestation of the spiritual insight he already had. In being attacked he was seeing a spiritual opportunity to confront his religious culture. He was seeing the battle was not against flesh and blood but was a spiritual one. He refused to answer simply “yes” or “no” because deeper, spiritual issues were involved. God had an answer that superseded merely “yes or no”, “for or against”.
I am concerned that when confronting my culture I fail to have the insight of Stephen. I tend to go with the surface answer – just responding to the options culture presents me. I fail to see there is another layer, a deeper purpose, a God answer not just a good answer.
For example, Jesus was confronted on paying taxes. He didn’t launch into a speech for or against high taxes. He went deeper, to the core heart issue. He refused to go with the “either/or” options the world gave Him. The system only allows me to be for or against something and I easily fall into that trap.
I can’t help but have an opinion on a matter – no matter how ill-informed I am I have an immediate opinion (and it happens to be the right opinion and only a “pinhead” would disagree with me). That is just natural. But as a super-natural man – one called to live beyond the natural inclinations of man – I need to crucify my opinions that His thoughts might become my thoughts.
I have been trying to look beyond the two options the world presents me and see the hand of God behind the issue. I am not very adept at it yet – still struggling to see deeper – but I believe it is something the Lord wants of His ambassadors on this planet. Don’t be sucked into the limited options the system offers.
For example: Am I for or against illegal immigration? Those are the only options I am presented and immediately I have an opinion. However, what is the core heart issue here? Where does God stand? Where should I, as His ambassador, stand? What does His Word say?
The land all belongs to God and all of us are foreigners and strangers living on His land – Leviticus 25:23
Help foreigners and strangers so they can continue to live among you – Leviticus 25:35
Do not oppress a foreigner because you were also foreigners in other lands – Exodus 23:9
Scripture also speaks of obeying the law of the land and punishing the law breaker.
So, am I for or against illegal immigration? I refuse to be pressed into the world’s mold of only having those two options. I know there is a deeper truth out there – a heart issue that impacts eternity. Like Stephen, I want to see beyond the natural into the supernatural realm. One thought that has occurred to me: Just like we say we hate sin but love the sinner can I hate breaking the law but love the law breaker? If so, how do I walk that out? How do I go beyond being just for or against something?
How does this apply to being for or against abortion? For or against a president or congressman? For or against a political party? For or against gun control? For or against ______? Can I chose an option outside the two the world offers me? Does God have a deeper, higher purpose and perspective that I can share?
Stephen saw an opportunity to not just answer “yes” or “no”. He saw an opportunity to present the gospel, to impact eternity. His stance led to him entering eternity sooner but it also greatly impacted a man who saw his witness – Saul of Tarsus. God has bigger purposes than me just being “for” or “against” something. “Lord, open the heavens that we may see you standing at the right hand of God and have your mind on these issues.”
There may be donkeys and elephants in heaven but the only one worshipped will be the Lamb. I am trying to align myself with Him in all these matters though I am still very much a novice.
But I know I have some very spiritually insightful friends so I would welcome your thoughts, input and especially anything the Lord has shown you regarding these issues.